Friday, June 30, 2017
Additional Advice for a Young Poet
“A writer has nothing to teach and everything to learn, at all times.” --Albert Camus
Only one paper napkin
for those six empty minutes?
Cover it with a poem.
Wipe your face
on the other side.
Between the splotches: write.
Lose your pen?
Try a pencil. When this
breaks, wears out,
charcoal till you're black
as the burnt stick
worn to smudge.
Write with ash
on the sea.
Write on grass,
red ink on flames,
blue on the sky,
white on snow.
When all implements
use your blood.
This poem previously appeared: Confrontation 2006; Real Toads, Black Buzzard Press, © 2008 Elisavietta Ritchie; Cormorant Beyond the Compost, Cherry Grove Collections, WordTech Communications, © 2011 Elisavietta Ritchie; The Broadkill Review, Vol. 7, no.1; , The Second Genesis: An Anthology of Contemporary World Poetry, compiled and edited by Anuraag Sharma.
Elisavietta Ritchie is president emeritus for both poetry and fiction divisions, Washington Writers’ Publishing House. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and she is the author of over a dozen books, most recently Harbingers! Learn more at www.elisaviettaritchie.com
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
by J. Howard
“Trauma Keeps Us Standing in the Same Place”
—Marilyn Kallet, Sept. 11 2016
Ghosts keep floating from the screen
though the television has been turned off body
after body like laundry in the wind
Protoplasm writhing in suits from Barney’s bleeding
through chef jackets outfits bought on sale
at Goodwill-- souls blasted out of their
bodies no time to catch a spiritual drop down
mask to lead the way to the other side these ghosts
shot from crumbled and burning legs
torsos ripped away from shoulders
brains smashed to mud
These souls cling to the warm
electrons of last night's news
and the hand that should have written this poem
hangs over a sheared slice of airplane
somewhere in Arlington
BIO: J. Howard is a teacher, poet, and coordinator of A Splendid Wake, an organization of poets who work to preserve the history of poetry and poetry movements in the Washington DC Metro area. Her work has been published in Poets and Artists, Abundant Grace (Paycock Press), MiPOesias, On Barcelona, and Winners: A Retrospective of The Washington Prize, among other publications. She was a finalist in the 2016 Moving Words Competition sponsored by Arlington Arts. Howard teaches at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland and is a former technology editor of The Potomac Review.
Afterwards, You Learn
by Judith McCombs
The Habit of Fire: Poems Selected & New
Library of Congress video recording
Afterwards, you learn to say
you were lucky; the last-year’s cubs
stayed safely behind her, breaking
the thickets for berries. Lucky
the wind from the darkening valley
turned cold, and your jacket was heavy,
and zipped to the neck. Lucky
you knew, too late for retreat
in that clearing of downfall and stone,
to drop and go fetal, arm
over neck, playing dead. Lucky
the backpack came off like an arm,
saving most of your arm, and kept her
busy till the grunting cubs
called her back to their feast.
Afterwards you learn to say
that the fault was yours: you were tired,
you were stubborn, making up for lost time
on that summer-growth trail through clearings
and thickets, the wind in your face,
not bothering to sing out or warn
what was there beside you, not waiting
for warnings to reach you.
But sometimes, in sleep, you go back
to that stonefall clearing, that edge
of safety where your scalp hair rises
like hackles for no reason you see,
and there is still enough time to go back
as that dark shape lifts upright
from its tangle of shadow, like a man
in a burly fur suit, peering out,
and you wake with the ghost hairs rising
like fur on your unscarred neck
and perfect right arm.
Judith McCombs grew up nomadic, in a geodetic surveyor’s family. Her poems appear in Delmarva, Potomac & Saranac Reviews, Innisfree, Nimrod (Neruda Award), Poetry, Shenandoah (Graybeal-Gowen Prize); and The Habit of Fire: Poems Selected & New. She is active in Word WorksDC, Federal Poets; and arranges the Kensington Row Bookshop’s Poetry Readings.
Saturday, June 24, 2017
THE WORLD SITUATION
by Karren L. Alenier
from The Anima of Paul Bowles
As the wife fed her cat crab-
meat, the cat that attempted
to walk the ceiling but failed,
the husband tackled the decline
of American civilization—barbarians
populated his tales. If a man cried
out, another lopped off his tongue.
In private, she said TV and
McCarthyism killed the invention
of new games. He just ripped
the caterwauling telephone
from the wall.
At a dinner party of all
women except for him, when she
was asked to comment on the world
situation, she excused herself, left
what was tasty and steaming
on the table, curled regally
on a divan like a feline, fell
asleep under an open
With its slow white
flakes, snow covered her. Horrified
at her absence, weren’t these women
her friends, he shook her awake—
what game is this? She whispered,
Resistance To Doom. I had to
make room for hope.
Friday, June 23, 2017
In a zoo in Morocco,
a child leans, smiling,
against a fence, to pose
with the elephant
who inexplicably hurls
a rock at her head.
The next day,
a man in Philadelphia
removes a storm drain
and jumps. Sucked
ten feet into a sewer,
he miraculously survives.
Unlike the child in Morocco.
Reading headlines each morning
I can’t decide if the news
defies or declares
a random universe,
allotted each life.
Something to consider
as I stand in a cemetery
talking to a stone
on your birthday,
recall the sound of your voice
in the rustle of a Weeping Cherry
"Random Headlines" appears in Jacqueline's book Itzhak Perlman's Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press.
Jacqueline Jules is the author of three chapbooks, Field Trip to the Museum (Finishing Line Press), Stronger Than Cleopatra (ELJ Publications), and Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String (Winner, Helen Kay Chapbook Prize 2016). Her work has appeared in over 100 publications. Visit her online at www.jacquelinejules.com where you will see that she is also the author of 40 books for young readers including the Zapato Power series and Never Say a Mean Word Again.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
by Myra Sklarew
for Dan Pagis and Eliezer
You come up behind me. You put
your two hands over my eyes.
“Guess who?” Your warm fingers
on my face. Your voice.
You are taken on a forced march
to the end of your life. A bomb
explodes. You fall bleeding in a ditch.
Your captors flee. You spit up blood.
Benedictine monks open the monastery
door. Come in, they say. At night
you go out to steal food. Soldiers
shoot at you. Barbed wire, even here.
Your name is Eliezer, God is my help.
But this god has gone away
on a long trip. Your warm fingers
on my face. Your voice.
Myra Sklarew attended Tufts University and the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, and studied bacterial viruses and genetics at Cold Spring Harbor Biological Institute. She conducted research on memory and prefrontal lobe function at Yale University School of Medicine. Her books include collections of poetry, short prose, essays and the forthcoming, A Survivor Named Trauma.
With thanks to Steve Castro and Public Pool where this poem first appeared.